Tuesday Hoops

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – Off one half each of their game on Dec. 10 at Walton Arena the Arkansas Razorbacks couldn’t have anticipated playing each other in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen.

But they are. They unexpectedly clash in Saturday’s South Regional semifinal in Indianapolis.
Coach Eric Musselman’s third-seeded, 24-6 Razorbacks rallied from down 14 during the first half eventually to rout 14th Colgate, 85-68 last Friday and staved off sixth-seeded Texas Tech, 68-66 on Sunday.
They were seeded to be a Sweet Sixteen team and they obliged.

Coach Paul Mills’ 18-10 Summit League Tournament champion Golden Eagles were seeded for oblivion matched last Friday as the 16-team regional’s 15th-seed against the self-styled The Ohio State University of the Big Ten.
ORU’s David stunned the Big Ten Goliath, 75-72.

ORU’s Kevin Obanor and Max Abmas scored 30 and 20 points.

No doubt grateful not to be facing Ohio State, fellow Arkansas SEC lodge brother Florida stumbled Sunday, 81-78.
Obanor scored 28 points with 11 boards.

Abmas scored 26 and dished seven assists.

Both teams came continents from that Dec. 10 game when Musselman said “ I thought we completely stunk it up,” trailing 40-30 in the first half with Mills less than thrilled regarding ORU’s second half losing the game, 87-76.
“They’re a better team than when they played us, and we’re a better team than when we played them,” Musselman said postgame Sunday. “Oral Roberts is really well coached. They have two star players. It doesn’t really affect anything that we beat them. That goes out the window in an NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen.”
Yes, but that Dec. 10 second half against ORU Arkansas blew away the Golden Eagles.

So Arkansas freshman starting guard Davonte “Devo” Davis of Jacksonville was asked Sunday if he’s shocked seeing ORU as Saturday’s Sweet Sixteen opponent?

“We can’t really be shocked because, I mean, they beat Ohio State you know,” Davis said. “That’s something that’s really big for that program. I feel that Oral Roberts is a really good team.”
Good enough to want him and recruit him.

“That was one of my first offers,” Davis said. “ I feel like they’ve got a great coaching staff, and they’re doing things that haven’t been done for that university. Me as an individual and as a team for the Arkansas Razorbacks, we’re coming into this game like we’re playing in the finals, you know. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, I feel like we’re going to come out and play as hard as we can and try to get this win, for sure. Just know we’re ready. We’re always ready.”

Musselman has made repeated wry references regarding some describing Arkansas’ nonconference schedule as “soft.”

Abilene Christian, beaten, 85-72 by Arkansas the game after the Hogs defeated ORU, as the 14th seed took out third-seeded Texas, 53-52 in Saturday’s NCAA Tournament first round game and took a 24-4 record into Monday’s second round game against UCLA.

North Texas, beaten, 69-54 by the Hogs on Nov. 28, as a 13th-seed upset the Big Ten’s and Indiana based Purdue, 78-69 in NCAA Tournament overtime Friday before beaten Sunday by favored Villanova.
And Musselman has that struggling Dec. 10 first half against ORU as a motivational reminder though he says he better not need it.

“If you’re playing in a Sweet 16 game, I mean, you better be ready to play,” Musselman said. “I shouldn’t have to grab their attention and put that score up from halftime of that Oral Roberts game. I shouldn’t have to grab their attention. We better be ready to play.”

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